Monsieur Salut writes: ‘you’re not fit to referee’, ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’, ‘the referee’s a w*****’. How often have we heard and/or joined in such chants? I even recall my brother piping up once in the Sunderland away end and he’s a qualified ref (albeit in rugby). It hardly seems to matter that even the most incompetent match officials tend to make fewer mistakes than players; a blatantly wrong penalty, sending-off or offside decision can feel a lot more cruel than a missed sitter or goalkeeping howler.
Yet Ken Gambles, in common with many SAFC supporters coming to terms with life in the third tier, has been appalled at the low standards and rank inconsistency of match officials. He suggests a regular Salut! Sunderland vote to rate each of the refs we encounter as the season continues. While we work out how and whether such an exercise could work, let Ken set the scene with some highly positive comments about the man in charge of our games, Andy Madley …
Monsieur Salut writes: on quiet days, two thoughts cross the mind: one of relief that Sunderland are not playing, therefore cannot lose, and a second on what to put on the site to stop interest flagging. The slack times would be unimportant if our readers generally had the habit of dipping into a substantial archive of material accumulated since Salut! Sunderland breathed its first in early 2007. They do not.
Perhaps we need to give more thought on how to make historical items attractive and easy enough to look up. We were better at this in the past, but much of the ‘furniture’, the links that appear in the sidebar column to the right as you look at this page, vanished either when the site crashed under cyber-attack a while ago or when our much-missed web guru Sam later sorted out lingering problems.
Let me introduce Ten Years After, not the ancient rock band but a new category to accommodate articles from 10 years ago that may still have merit, whether because they have historical interest or because they may stir memories or simply entertain. Our associate editor John McCormick, has other ideas for doing more to alert today’s readers to what Salut! Sunderland has got up to and these will be implemented where possible.
Ten Years After starts with a piece that first appeared about but not exactly 10 years ago, ie on Feb 22 2007, and looked at some rotten refereeing decisions of what was, already in 2007, the past. I will make minor tweaks to take account of the passage of time. You may have better examples from before or since …
Rightly, wrongly or clumsily, Salut! Sunderland allowed a splendid piece of whimsy from Pete Sixsmith, which also offered serious discussion of the steady progress of Stoke City as a well-run Premier League club, to degenerate into another ugly spat over Ryan Shawcross’s 2011 challenge on Aaron Ramsey.
But, as a new study reminds us, the history of Arsenal grievance and victimhood goes back a long way …
Monsieur Salut writes: Salut! Sunderland often asks ‘Who are You?’ interviewees to share their views on the best and worst referees in the Premier League. Mark Clattenburg is the one most commonly named as the best and, for all that he’s a Mag, I agree. Experience has also taught me to be as understanding as most of the pressures on match officials. I criticise bad decisions and inconsistency but am the first the recognise that players make many more bad decisions, and show much greater inconsistency.
In one of the occasional guest pieces we receive from a football academic, Tom Webb, we learn that pundits generally are also more restrained in their assessments of refs than is supposed. It is worth noting that many ex-referees – Graham Poll, Howard Webb and Dermot Gallagher spring to mind – now provide their services to the media as expert assessors …
Two things happened at Twitter as I spread word of Jeremy Robson’s gloomy piece about the ruinous impact of Martin Atkinson’s refereeing on his attachment to Premier League football.
The latest in our occasional series that pokes Salut! Sunderland noses into the business of others …
Graham Poll was a referee whose apparent excess of self-confidence was often interpreted as arrogance. There was much gloating when his three-card trick – in fact it was one card, the yellow one he showed three times to Josip Šimunic of Croatia in the 2006 World Cup – signalled the end of his international career.
In truth, it was his decision to stand down, directly because of his error, and he refereed for only one further season in the Premier before retiring.
He now does an excellent and necessary job, commenting in the Daily Mail on controversial issues arising from match officials’ decision.
There’s a debate going on about refs and bias, fomented no doubt by some evil southerner who hates all us northern, whippet-breeding (and maybe also horse punching but that’s not us) working-class, cloth-cap wearers. Or maybe it’s just someone who likes football and puts information and opinion on the web and invites comment, just as we do. (You can judge for yourself by visiting http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/30364)
I suspect it’s the latter and I’d say M Salut said as much, and although some of the material he used may have suggested he was biased, I know we try to be objective and fair, except when baiting Mags and fans from Coventry, Leeds, Cockney or sundry other clubs.
John McCormick writes: I was supposed to be enjoying the onset of Spring in the Yorkshire Dales. It wasn’t quite like that, and the internet connection I had was also short on promise. Never mind, I’ve negotiated the weather and the M6 and am once again able to bring you my thoughts.
In this latest instalment of our new How Dare We? series, rather than bombard you with dodgy statistics and contentious argument, I’m making a case for referees and rules. How dare we? you might ask, given the going rate for fines when half a Premiership team abuses a ref is less than the income from 1,000 spectators at a single match. It’s just part part of the service, ladies and gentlemen, which we spare no expense in bringing to you without fear or favour.
Ken Gambles came up with one the ideas of 2011, the mandatory wearing of bright pink mittens by shirt-pullers and goggles by divers. Sadly, no manufacturer could be found to guarantee keeping up with the likely demand and members of the National Union of Football Divers, Shirt-Pullers and Injury-Feigners besieged Parliament in their thousands. Now, Ken turns his attention to the inconsistencies of match officials ….
What, exactly, is un-English about standing by the side of the football pitch and waving an imaginary card when a player from your side goes down under a crude tackle?
It is widely reported that Roberto Mancini has been warned he could face FA disciplinary action if he persists in gesticulating towards referees in an attempt to persuade him to send off offending opponents.